Baseball catches up to spring

After a series of fits and starts — rain delays and some disagreement over when the fields would be ready — Malibu Little League officially got its season off the ground last weekend with games at Bluffs Park.

The city signed off on its contract for field renovations Thursday evening after going over a final punch list with the contractor. Little League took over the fields Friday morning.

“We legally released the contractor from all liability and on completion of his job,” said Catherine Walter, the city’s Parks and Recreation director. “He has a 60-day maintenance contract, so he’s responsible for watering, replacing any sod that doesn’t root, removing weeds and general turf maintenance. But he’s not responsible if they tear something up.”

“Little League volunteers went out to do some last-minute things to the field Friday, but there were no major problems that I know of,” Walter said.

Little League officials deemed the pony league field too wet, after heavy rains Thursday, and canceled those games, but they were able to prep the other field properly for major league games. “That shows really good judgment on their part,” Walter said. “We don’t want the kids to be playing in dangerous conditions.”

Minor league games, involving the youngest players, were played on the softball diamond at Malibu High School, where they began practice games a few weeks ago.

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“If we didn’t have the fields at the high school, we’d really be in a pickle,” Walter said. “That’s really important.”

The city has had a shared-use agreement with the Santa Monica-Malibu School District for three years — since the swimming pool was completed — for the softball diamond and two practice fields. Soccer leagues split their play, with half the games at Bluffs Park and half at the high school, which allows twice as many children to participate. The high school teams have first use of all facilities. The other teams have the fields after 5 p.m. weekdays and all day Saturdays and Sundays. The city is wholly responsible for the fields and the pool during summer and school vacations, Walter said.

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